Batchelder Assumes Command of Carrier Air Wing 11

Story Number: NNS090207-08Release Date: 2/7/2009 4:47:00 PM
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By Melinda L. Larson, Naval Air Station Lemoore Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION LEMOORE, Calif. (NNS) -- Two F/A-18 Super Hornets and one F/A-18 Hornet provided the back drop as the reins of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 were handed over during a change of command ceremony Feb. 5 at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

Capt. Bret C. Batchelder took command of CVW 11 from Capt. Thomas M. Downing.

"When it comes to hard power - that's bombs on target, on time - nobody does it better than the U.S. Navy," Commander, Carrier Strike Group 11 Rear Adm. John W. Miller told a hangar full of aviators, maintainers, families and guests during the ceremony.

During Downing's tenure as CVW 11, he led the wing's seven squadrons to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as exercises Valiant Shield, Malabar and Foal Eagle. CVW 11 flew over 20,000 sorties and 30,000 hours since Downing's assumption of command in August 2007.

"Your ability to project America's power around the globe is a testament to your leadership," said Miller as he presented Downing with the Legion of Merit.

Downing was quick to acknowledge all Sailors in uniform who serve their country.

"You all have the warrior spirit. You are professionals in uniform who volunteered. You are here because you want to be. Thank you for your service to your squadrons, your wing, your Navy and your nation," said Downing whose next assignment will be in the Joint Strike Fighter Requirements office in Norfolk. "What we do collectively is serve others and there is no more notable calling to man."

Continuing with the hard power and teamwork themes, Batchelder, who previously served as the CVW 11 deputy commander, thanked Downing for his tactical excellence as he looked to the future.

"Captain Downing set the bar for us based on his passion for tactical excellence," said Batchelder. "In this world we live in, I embrace hard power and I'm proud to be your tool to administer it."

The squadrons of CVW-11 include the "Black Aces" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, the "Tophatters" of VFA-14, the "Warhawks" of VFA-97, the "Sidewinders" of VFA-86, the "Black Ravens" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135, the "Wallbangers" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117, and the Screamin' Indians of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 6.

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